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Public Statements

Letter to Chuck Hagel, Secretary of United States Department of Defense - Prosecuting Military Sexual Assaults

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) today called on Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to expand the scope of the Department of Defense (DOD) panel on investigating and prosecuting sexual assault to include oversight and accountability from Service Academy Superintendents. The Service Academies, which train our future military leaders, have inconsistent policies for prevention of and response to sexual assaults.

"As you know, I have been working on this issue for 25 years, both as a member of the Senate and the Board of Visitors for the U.S. Naval Academy," Senator Mikulski wrote. "We graduate thousands of cadets and midshipmen each year. The education of the midshipmen will shape the culture of the military for years to come. That is why I am concerned about the leadership that trains the leadership and am deeply troubled by the lackluster response from the Superintendents to increasing rates of sexual assault within their Academies."

On Tuesday June 11, in her role as Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Mikulski participated in a hearing with Defense Department leadership including Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey where she reiterated her commitment to ending sexual assault at the nation's Service Academies and throughout the Armed Forces.

Senator Mikulski noted Secretary Hagel's testimony in her letter:

"You noted in your testimony that you have named a 'set of highly respected and experienced experts' to serve on a panel to conduct an independent review of DoD's process for investigating and prosecuting sexual assaults. I support convening this panel and request that you expand the scope of its mission to include oversight and accountability of Superintendents for each of the Service Academies."

In her letter, which can be read below, Senator Mikulski provided specific questions she wants answered to shine light on the oversight and accountability of academy superintendents.

Senator Mikulski also recently wrote to Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus calling for strong leadership to end sexual assault at the Naval Academy in Annapolis..

Senator Mikulski's letter to Defense Secretary Hagel follows:

June 17, 2013

Chuck Hagel
Secretary
United States Department of Defense
1400 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301

Dear Secretary Hagel:

I am writing to follow-up on our recent exchange about sexual assault in the U.S. Service Academies during the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense hearing on June 11, 2013. I acknowledge the steps you have taken to address this issue thus far, and I support them. However, more needs to be done.

As you know, I have been working on this issue for 25 years, both as a member of the Senate and the Board of Visitors for the U.S. Naval Academy. We graduate thousands of cadets and midshipmen each year. The education of the midshipmen will shape the culture of the military for years to come. That is why I am concerned about the leadership that trains the leadership and am deeply troubled by the lackluster response from the Superintendents to increasing rates of sexual assault within their Academies.

You noted in your testimony that you have named a "set of highly respected and experienced experts" to serve on a panel to conduct an independent review of DoD's process for investigating and prosecuting sexual assaults. I support convening this panel and request that you expand the scope of its mission to include oversight and accountability of Superintendents for each of the Service Academies. Specifically, I would like to know:

(1) How do Superintendents get their job?
(2) How do they keep their job?
(3) Are there regular and consistent performance evaluations of Superintendents? On what criteria are they judged?
(4) What are there consequences for a Superintendent of a service academy that is incompliant with DoD's policies on sexual assault prevention and response in the Service Academies?

I believe that the Superintendent is critical to setting the tone and establishing a command climate of dignity and respect. If we are going to end sexual assault in the military, we must start by changing the culture in the Service Academies where future leaders are created.

I look forward to your prompt reply to my request.

Sincerely,

Barbara A. Mikulski
U.S Senator


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